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Former Huntingdon mayor avoids jail

The former mayor of a Cambridgeshire town has avoided being jailed today, after admitting attempting to pervert the course of justice.

Saeed Akthar was mayor of Huntingdon in 2008 and 2009, he falsely obtained references for a court case involving his son, including one from Conservative MP Jonathan Djanogly. They were told the references were for a job interview.

Click below to watch a report from Stuart Leithes:

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Former Mayor of Huntingdon pleads guilty to perverting the course of justice

Saeed Akthar.

A former Mayor of Huntingdon has pleaded guilty to attempting to pervert the course of justice at Cambridge Crown Court today.

48-year-old Saeed Akthar, who was mayor of the Cambridgeshire town twice, admitted to trying to persuade a friend to lie to the police on his behalf.

He was given unconditional bail and will be sentenced at the same court on February 20.

Firefighters capture dramatic horse rescue

Firefighters from Cambridgeshire have captured the moment crews rescued a horse which fell into a river while out hunting in Great Staughton.

'The horse was very cold and exhausted' Credit: Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service

Specially trained teams were sent to assist with animal rescue specialists who hoisted the horse from the river off Kimbolton Road on Saturday afternoon.

This incident was at least a mile from any main road and it is thanks to the public involved that we were able to get our animal rescue equipment to the trapped horse.

The riders and others involved provided us with quad bikes and clear directions to navigate the terrain, which undoubtedly meant we were able to get to the horse as quickly as possible.

The horse was very cold and exhausted but thanks to the quick and efficient work by our specially trained crews we were able to get the animal out safely.

If animal owners ever find themselves in situations like these, we would urge them to call the emergency services as soon as possible to give their animal the best chance of survival. We have specially trained animal rescue teams and equipment, so please, do not attempt a dangerous rescue yourself - instead, call the fire service.

– Group Commander, Callum Faint

Cambridgeshire Fire and Rescue Service says "it is believed the horse is alive and well".

Flagship hospital placed in special measures after private firm pulls out

A flagship hospital in Cambridgeshire which is the first in the NHS to be run by a private firm, is to be placed in special measures after the company running it pulled out of the deal.

Circle has been running Hinchingbrook Hospital in Huntingdon for more than two years but says it's now not viable. Hospital inspectors rated the unit 'inadequate.'

Click below to watch our report from Matthew Hudson

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'From flagship to failure': Unions react to Hinchingbrooke

Unions have reacted to the announcement by operators of the country's first privately run NHS hospital that it is withdrawing its contract, calling the move a "stark warning of the dangers of NHS privatisation".

Circle - the first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital - is withdrawing from its contract Credit: PA

Hinchingbrooke has gone full circle, from flagship to complete failure.

This is the proof that the privatisation of the NHS is a disastrous experiment at the expense of our healthcare.

– Len McCluskey, general secretary of the Unite union

The NHS is simply not shaped for competition.

This Government's obsession with selling off our National Health Service is a huge waste of taxpayers' money.

Setting up the model was an unnecessary expense which could have been used to recruit more staff and deal with the growing demand on services

– Unison general secretary Dave Prentis

This shows that when the going gets tough, the private sector just cut their losses and walk away, leaving the already strained public sector to pick up their mess.

It gives me no great pleasure in saying that we warned that this would happen from the start.

The Hinchingbrooke experiment should be held up as a stark warning of the dangers of NHS privatisation.

– Steve Sweeney, regional officer of the GMB union

Hinchingbrooke Hospital: Local MP's reaction

Huntingdon MP Jonathan Djanogly says Circle's decision to pull out of their contract running Hinchingbrooke Hospital was a shock and a shame.

However he says unions and other critics of privatisation had used the hospital as a "political football".

Circle was the first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital trust. It is pulling out claiming it is "no longer sustainable" due to funding cuts and pressure on its casualty department.

Click below to watch Matthew Hudson's full interview with Jonathan Djanogly MP

Hinchingbrooke Hospital: Patient care won't be affected

The first private healthcare operator to run an NHS hospital trust is to pull out of the deal, claiming it is "no longer sustainable" due to funding cuts and pressure on its casualty department.

Hinchingbrooke Hospital Credit: PA Wire

Circle Holdings said the level of cash it had pumped in to prop up Hinchingbrooke healthcare trust in Cambridgeshire was about to reach £5 million, meaning it would have the right to terminate the franchise.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "We're disappointed Circle has made this decision.

"There will now be a managed transfer of the running of the trust and patient care will not be affected."

Circle does not have a 'sustainable future with Hinchingbrooke'

The Chief Executive of the Circle Partnership, a private company which runs Hinchingbrooke Hospital in Huntingdon says its future with the NHS hospital is 'unsustainable' and that 'with great regret' it is looking to withdraw from its contract.

"After considerable thought and with great regret we have concluded that Circle’s involvement in Hinchingbrooke does not have a sustainable future in its existing form, and have entered into discussions with the Trust Development Authority with a view to withdrawing from the current contract."

– Steve Melton, Chief Executive of Circle

Circle took over the running of Hinchingbrooke in 2012 making it the only NHS hospital to be run privately in the UK.

The Chief Executive also said that times have changed since they took over the contract.

"Like most hospitals, over the past year we have seen unprecedented A&E attendances – at times up to 30% higher, year-on-year - and not enough care places for healthy patients who await discharge. Second, at the same time, our funding has been cut by approximately 10.1% this year. With these pressures on the system, to maintain the standards our patients deserve requires significant further investment, on top of the £4.84 million and considerable resources Circle have invested in the hospital to date."

– Steve Melton
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